27 January 2006

Sorry, Jim, Reputation is a Story

Jim Kobielus disagrees with me that your reputation is "just a story".

He proposes an alternative:

"Reputation is a computed halo—positive or negative--around our socially contextualized identities...

Reputation is a score computed by relying parties in order to determine whether or not to authorize the reputed party to access resources such as jobs, communities, romantic encounters, time of day, etc....

Reputation is an assurance that someone is worth our while."

I'm sorry to say that this is just wrong. All these computations take reputation as an input rather than producing it as an output.

Easy example: Is George W. Bush "worth our while"? Peoples' answers differ violently, on the basis of exactly the same set of information. The information is the reputation. Whether the reputation is "good" or "bad" depends upon where you stand.

The dictionary (American Heritage, of course) agrees with both of us, but gives Jim's definition priority:

reputation: NOUN: 1. The general estimation in which a person is held by the public. 2. The state or situation of being held in high esteem. 3. A specific characteristic or trait ascribed to a person or thing: a reputation for courtesy.


Blogger Gunnar said...

Doesn't the inbound information carry reputational characteristics with it? In other words depending where I stand a story (perhaps with the same content) about GW Bush sourced from NPR or sourced from Fox News is likely to have a different impact on me. So the example you gave is recursive, I think (not that there's anything wrong with that).

January 27, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

That's right; the source has an identity (a brand identity, in the case of Fox News and NPR) and a reputation in the mind of each viewer, and each source tells a story (an "identity") about a public figure, which influences peoples' ideas of that figure's reputations differently based on their assessment of the source's reputation.

February 20, 2006 9:22 AM  

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